The Court of Appeal’s 7-Judge Bench hearing the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) appeal case head that the Head of State never spearheaded the constitutional amendment process.
Lawyer Otiende Amollo instead told the appellate court that process was promoted by Suna East Member of Parliament (MP), Junet Mohammed and BBI Secretariat Co-chair, Dennis Waweru contrary to perception that President Uhuru Kenyatta was at the core of the initiative.
Otiende in his submissions cleared the president’s name in his appeal against the landmark ruling that heavily pegged on the issue to nullify the process as being unconstitutional on grounds that it was not a popular initiate because it was allegedly promoted by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Otiende who is one of the lead Counsel for ODM Leader Raila Odinga, noted that in as much as the High Court ruled that President Kenyatta was the chief proponent of which he is not, but even if he was, anyone is allowed to support the initiative and that is what the President did.
“…Junet and Waweru were the engineers of BBI. They engaged with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and collected the signatures,” he said in his submissions, and explained that the ideas were reduced into a Bill and it’s at that point that the popular initiative started.
Otiende further submitted that the IEBC accepted Junet and Waweru initiative and were authorized to collect signatures from Kenyans.
“They collected the signatures and submitted them to IEBC which did a letter to the counties and confirmed to them who the promoters of the BBI are,” submitted Otiende.
The IEBC was allowed by the judges to present new evidence, with the body’s counsel, arguing that it has enough quorum to carry out a referendum.
The BBI case at the Court of Appeal opened, yesterday, with the government securing its first win after the Judges struck out part of an appeal filed by Nairobi lawyer, Charles Kanjama.
Attorney General in his submission through his lawyer, Kamau Karori, accused the High Court Judges of relying on Wikipedia and Google to dismiss the BBI process.
He pleaded with the judges to validate the exercise and allow it to proceed to the referendum stage where Kenyans will have the final say on the documents fate.
Further, Karori submitted that the IEBC has no say at all on determining the creation of new constituencies as was ruled by the High Court Judges who shot down the BBI process.
Court of Appeal President, Justice Daniel Musinga, appointed the Seven-Judge Bench to hear and determine five appeals filed against the High Court ruling.
Justice Musinga is the Presiding Judge on the Bench that will determine the fate of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s BBI.
The other Judges are Justices Roselyne Nambuye, Hannah Okwengu, Patrick Kiage, Gatembu Kairu, Fatuma Sichale and Francis Tuiyott.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM boss Raila Odinga, key proponents of the push to change the Constitution, are seeking to convince the Court of Appeal Judges to clear the road for a referendum.
A judgment by a five-judge bench delivered two weeks ago declared the BBI process null and void and stopped any further progress after MPs passed it in Parliament.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) that was set to start preparing a referendum question was also barred from undertaking any further steps, with the judges ruling that the approval of the BBI signatures by the Electoral Commission was unconstitutional because it is not properly constituted with just three Commissioners.
They ruled that the quorum for a commission is five, contradicting a previous High Court ruling that set the number at three.
BBI came about after President Kenyatta and opposition Leader Raila Odinga, in 2018 stunned the nation by shaking hands and pledged to promote unity after a drawn-out 2017 election battle that left hundreds of Kenya dead and thousands of others displaced.
By Alice Gworo